UFC 129 saw Georges St. Pierre (22-2-0) once again defend his welterweight title against a top five welterweight, and one that hadn’t lost in nearly six years while compiling 15 wins in that time. Jake Shields was a game challenger, although I personally wonder how he would have fared against a more confident St. Pierre who was noticeably concerned with an irritated/injured eye early on.
The UFC is now faced with a situation where the champion has handily defeated six of the top seven welterweights – accordingly to several credible ranking sites – in mixed martial arts today; Nick Diaz (25-7-1) remains the lone man out, coming in at number six on Sherdog.com’s welterweight top ten, and is the only man currently outside of the UFC banner in the bunch.
If there was ever a time to capitalize on the Strikeforce welterweight champion’s popularity, particularly in the West coast, the time is now. No remaining welterweight inside the UFC has the marketability that Diaz would bring to this main-event; the Stockton native is riding an extreme confidence high on the back of ten consecutive wins, and as a tri-athlete, has the kind of gas tank to continue pushing the pace against the notoriously cardio-strong GSP. His Jiu-Jitsu is of a high level, which will rival if not surpass St. Pierre in that area, and his offensive boxing continues to improve by leaps and bounds with each bout.
It is worth mentioning however, that Nick Diaz has not fought a high-level MMA wrestler in some time, arguably since his TKO victory over Gleison Tibau at UFC 65 in November of 2006. Diaz has never possessed the kind of takedown defense or strength to ward off powerful wrestlers; that blueprint was written by Diego Sanchez, Joe Riggs, and Sean Sherk respectively in 05/06, and remains the only time Diaz has lost consecutive matches in his career to date.
Georges St. Pierre is perhaps the best mixed martial arts wrestler in the sport’s short history; his timing and explosiveness is unparalleled and his speed will be on par with Stockton’s favorite son. Taking a glimpse at their most recent victories tells a tall tale; while Diaz has toppled (literally) Zaromskis, Sakurai, Noons, Santos, and Daley… St. Pierre has arguably won every round in his past five bouts – and beyond – against the likes of B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, and Jake Shields.
Bringing Nick Diaz into the UFC without the intention of granting him an immediate title shot, or presenting him with a favorable style match-up first would be detrimental to the marketing value he currently offers. In this writer’s opinion, it’s highly likely that either of Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck, or Jake Ellenberger could derail that hype and Zuffa knows this. Not to mention, with Cesar Gracie Academy teammate Jake Shields dropping the most recent of a growing list of decisions on St. Pierre’s resume, Nick Diaz also presents an attractive storyline in the way of revenge…
Will it be UFC 140, Diaz versus GSP?
It will be interesting to see how Zuffa handles these negotiations, and the extent to which they’re willing to bend. Dana White had initially stated that cross-promotion super fights were not an option for the UFC brand, but at this point, what alternative do they have?
Dayna Deruelle is writer/editor at MMACombat.com and has been an avid follower of mixed martial arts since taking in UFC 1 – The Beginning, Nov12, 1993. He attended school at Brock University in St. Catharines , Ontario, Canada, and currently resides in Brampton, Ontario.